NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tuesday marks the start of the U.S. Postal Service‘s 102nd annual “Operation Santa Adopt-a-Letter” program.

During the long-held Christmas tradition, thousands of volunteers respond to letters from children listing their holiday wishes.

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Postal Service spokesperson Darleen Reid said 300,000 people have already signed up to help, but they are looking for more volunteers.

“The need is so great,” Reid told 1010 WINS. “If anyone has it in their heart to help Santa out this year we could sure some more secret Santas.”

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An opening ceremony was held at 11 a.m. at the James A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue and 34th Street.

The event featured an appearance by costumed characters from the 1964 animated holiday television special, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

“Operation Santa has made dreams come true for those in need for 102 years,” said William Schnaars, Postal Service district manager of New York. “This is a time to celebrate how Postal Service employees, charitable organizations, businesses and others have made a difference in the lives of children coast to coast.”

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